Since 2006, Voodoo has tried to make sure that the festival offers those interested a local experience in addition to its international lineup. It has even included jazz bands, which rarely seem like a good fit.
At first, Terence Blanchard and the E-Collective seemed like another well-intentioned miss. He started quietly, and the obvious seriousness of purpose seemed at odds with the festival's good times vibe. The melancholy in his sound sympathized with the gray skies though, and as the set continued, Blanchard's playing grew ferocious in its reach and passion, seemingly in the vocabulary of the rock guitarist as much as the jazz trumpeter.
The E-Collective is Blanchard's groove-oriented band, and its embrace of funk and electronic textures gives it a contemporary vibe most of the time. When drummer Oscar Seaton hit a funk groove and piano player Fabian Almazan soloed with a Fender Rhodes sound though, the moment sounded straight out of 1972.
Most of the set came from Blanchard's recent album, "Breathless," but he did introduce one new piece, "Dear Jimi," a tribute to Hendrix. Blanchard brought him to mind with a cluster of high, squealing notes played on his synthesizer. Then he handed the song to guitarist David Mooney, who wisely went nowhere near Hendrix's sound or style.
During the song, the day's long-promised rain finally arrived, and maybe it was the need to move to stay warm or the need to cook to hold an audience, but for a while Blanchard, the E-Collective and the audience were locked in. The only concessions made to the rain came when a roadie pulled Blanchard's synth back and through a towel over his laptop to protect them from the rain. Mooney had to pull his rig and music stand away from the edge of the stage.
After a very deliberate version of "Breathless" that asked a lot of an audience in the rain, Blanchard finished with his version of hard rock, with Mooney and bassist Donald Ramsey power-chording while Seaton pounded out his groove. It was an intense, powerful ending to a set that demonstrated that he clearly belonged at Voodoo.